Mark Dion

The Wondrous Museum of Nature

December 17th 2016 - September 17th 2017, Kunstmuseum

The Wondrous Museum of Nature: The Kunstmuseum St. Gallen is delighted to present the important American artist Mark Dion (*1961 in New Bedford, MA) in a comprehensive solo exhibition. Previously, the museum has shared the Neo-Classicist building by Johann Christoph Kunkler with the Natural History Museum, which will move to a new building on 11 November. This is why the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen invited Mark Dion to show his works in the newly available rooms on the lower floor of the building, since his oeuvre revolves around ideas about nature and how it manifests itself in the methods of the study of nature and thus in museums of natural history.

With his idiosyncratic artistic “research,” his great passion for collecting, and precise ecological questions, Dion deals with the ancient relationship of human beings to their environment and pointedly questions traditional systems of thought and teaching. With a dark sense of humor, philosophical sharpness, and surprising sensuality, the artist transforms the exhibition space into a series of natural laboratories, museum storerooms, and mysterious hunting grounds. He continually takes on the role of a traveling researcher who explores new worlds with both fascinated curiosity and a fear of the unknown.

At Documenta 13 Mark Dion created an exhibition architecture for the Xylothek Schildbach at the Museum of Natural History in the Ottoneum in Kassel. This wood library (from the Greek word xylon for wood) created in the late 18th century by Carl Schildbach consists of 530 “books” made of indigenous varieties of trees and shrubs. In the expanded Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Mark Dion will now for the first time ever have the chance to intervene in a (former) museum of natural history with his own works and question the existing exhibition structures as well as the implied scientific categories. With The Wondrous Museum of Nature, Mark Dion will realize his own nature collection—a very particular temporary museum of natural history.

Curator: Konrad Bitterli